UK film industry braves recession; sees investment boom

MUMBAI: Independent UK film production has remained steady for the first nine months of 2009, with 62 UK films made, up from 61 in the same period in 2008. The number of inward investment films increased from 22 to 28 in the same period.

Total spend on UK productions fell slightly from £182.8m to £154.2m, as did the level of co-productions (from 18 in the first nine months of 2008 to eight in the same period in 2009). Inward investment in the UK film industry was at an all-time high for the first nine months of 2009. Total spend from inward investment increased by 142% on the same period in 2008 (from £283.7 million to £686.4 million).

Overall, levels of filmmaking in the UK are holding up well despite the global economic downturn, the collapse in the pre-sales market, the drop in advertising budgets and faltering DVD sales. This resilience is testament to the underlying quality of the UK film industry and the skills of those who work in it.

Prominent UK domestic titles shooting in the UK in Jan-Sept 2009 were Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Paul, The Killer Inside Me, 1-800-Love, Centurion, Blitz, Tamara Drewe, St Trinians II: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold and The Great Ghost Rescue.

Inward investment productions are films which are substantially financed and controlled from abroad, but shot in whole or in part in the UK. Significant titles that started shooting in the UK in the third quarter of 2009 include Inception, The Special Relationship and Your Highness, which join the already-reported titles Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Untitled Robin Hood Adventure, Clash of the Titans, and Gulliver’s Travels, which were shot in the first half of 2009.

UK Film Council CEO John Woodward says, “The UK’s film industry is actually weathering this global financial storm relatively well and we’re of course helped by the current favourable exchange rate. That’s not to say there aren’t going to continue to be challenges ahead, but today’s figures show just how resilient we are as an industry. Not only do we have a critical mass of world-class facilities and talent hugely skilled in making good quality and popular films, but the film tax credit is an important building block in this success, and it’s going to be crucial to maintain it in the future. The one ongoing concern is in relation to the continued drop in UK independent co-productions. This is largely a function of the one flaw in the otherwise excellent film tax credit which disincentivises UK participation in co-productions by focusing tax relief only on production spend made on the ground in the UK.”